There’s a load of crap circulating around the youth sports world, lies that parents believe which have made the culture of kids’ athletics rather distasteful at times.
Don’t fall for it. If any of these unspoken or spoken lies steers your behavior as a sports parent, call them out for what they are: enemies that distort the real mission of youth sports.
Lies parents believe about youth sports:
1. My kid has to play sports. I did. No, he does not. Your kid is not you.
2. Playing time is what it’s all about. No, it’s about character and teamsmanship and learning to work hard.
3. My kid’s coach is an idiot. Well, he may not be too smart, he may not know the sport as well as you do, and you may not like his philosophy or strategy, but he’s not an idiot. He is giving his time and energy to do something that few parents will step up to do. Give him a break. If you don’t like the way he does things, try volunteering yourself.
4. I have to fight my kid’s battles. You keep that up and you’re going to raise a wimp. Coach him into it.
5. My kid’s gonna play college. Perhaps she is; perhaps she isn’t. For some parents, this is dillusional thinking. For others, it’s planning out your child’s future without consulting him. Perhaps calling it a lie is a bit strong. But suffice to say, many parents need a severe reality check.
6. My kid is the best player on the team. Maybe your child is good. Maybe he’s really good. But whose to say he is the “best”? What is your definition of “best’? Most talented? Best leader? Most unselfish player? Every kid is “the best” at something. You keep dwelling on the fact that your kid is “the best” and you are going to pass on that selfish, arrogant attitude to him.
7. Winning is the most important thing. Oh, it’s important all right. In fact, the older you get in youth sports, the more important it becomes. But the best coaches and parents–the ones that truly care about the development of character in their athletes–are those that know there’s more to sports than winning. And besides, who says you can’t win AND learn character?
8. My kid has to play one sport year-round to stand out in that sport. Most sports experts will tell you that kids who specialize early in one sport will either burn out early or will not become the best they can be. Athletes who cross train and play multiple sports usually end up be better for it. Survey the college and pro athletes and I’m sure you’ll see the trend.
9. My kid has to pay big bucks to play club or travel sports to keep up. Your child may have to play club sports if he wants to play on a school team or in a league in your area that caters to travel players, but your child does not have to play club sports to stay in shape, to play the game, to work hard in the off-season. There are cheaper and easier ways to stay on top of the sport and get game experience. There were a few girls on my daughter’s high school varsity softball team that never bought into that. Maybe they were lucky, or maybe they were just very athletic, but they never played travel ball and still started on a very competitive team.
10. I have to push my child or they won’t be successful in sports. I’ll admit that we do have to give our kids gentle nudges every now an then, but pushy parents are control freaks who feel as if their child’s success is totally their responsibility. Your child has to learn responsibility and letting him be his own “pusher” is a great way for him to learn that.
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